Review Comment

[SIEO W3600] Intro Probability/Statistics

May 20, 2014

Olvera-Cravioto, Mariana
[SIEO W3600] Intro Probability/Statistics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Mariana is an average teacher. She's super nice and you shouldn't be afraid to ask her for help. However, her teaching ability is questionable. She started off the class horribly slowly. It took us an entire 2 weeks to get to Bayes' Theorem. Don't worry though. She picks up the pace, in fact, her speed rises exponentially as the term progresses. Soon she's going so fast that you'll have no idea what on Earth is going on. As soon as we started joint distributions, most of the class got lost. She would show up, talk really fast and write down a bunch of equations and then have a quiz at the end.

The textbook this class uses is garbage. You'll have to look up the textbook a lot to do the homework since she doesn't do enough examples in class. Try using Introduction to Probability and Statistics for Engineers and Scientists by Ross. It's infinitely better and Mariana actually teaches straight from it. Unfortunately, I only discovered this towards the end of the semester.

The homework started off easy and got harder towards the end. It's still very doable, though you spend a lot of time going over your notes and textbook since you won't learn much from class.

The quizzes are similar in difficulty to the homework. You might experience somewhat of a time crunch on many of them since she puts up the question on the projector and they're generally super long. You spend 3 minutes just reading the question.

The final was OK. It had more probability than expected and very little statistics. Make sure you revise the older material so you don't get screwed during the final. Grading was fair to generous.

Some weird stuff about her - Mariana likes talking about movies a lot and sometimes she says kind of racist things that are inappropriate for class. Nothing to worry about, but it's super funny when she goes off on these tangents.

Overall, Mariana's an above average professor by Columbia standards. You'll learn a lot in this class. Probability is a super interesting topic, so if you're interested, you should definitely consider a class that goes into it in more depth than this one.

Workload:

11 Assignments 20%
9 Quizzes 40% (lowest dropped) (Difficulty differed with each quiz - could be really easy or very hard)
1 Final 40% (Medium-hard. 4 questions on probability, 1 on stats)

May 23, 2013

Blanchet, Jose
[SIEO W3600] Intro Probability/Statistics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I agree with the reviews below: Jose is a bad teacher, and spends excessive amounts of time teaching theoretical math. However, if you went to class and to recitations (Aya, his TA, was amazing), I felt you could do fine. He does, after all, curve. And if you're interested in modeling actual scenarios, you can learn about that from an incredibly smart guy.

But don't get me wrong--if you can take this class with someone else that has good reviews, do so. This class was, in many ways, torturous, and often felt like we were hitting our heads against a wall. If do you end up with him, GO TO RECITATION and office hours.

Workload:

A lot. 7 ridiculous problem sets that required you to ask the TA's to explain all the questions. Two hard midterms, hard final.

May 18, 2013

Blanchet, Jose
[SIEO W3600] Intro Probability/Statistics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

If you really want to be tortured during the class, take this professor. The professor neither taught the predetermined content nor explained the knowledge, which in his opinion is hard and "useful", clearly.
This is the worst class I have ever had in Columbia. I usually don't try to say something bad about something, but the school should fully instigate the professor's integrality of teaching ability to the standard of Columbia, an ivy league university.
If you can, DO NOT take this class.

Workload:

Around 7 Homework (hard as BALLS), suprise quiz (only one time and drop the lowest one), midterm X 2 (which I don't even understand the problem. Final (like what you encounter in midterm).

May 15, 2013

Blanchet, Jose
[SIEO W3600] Intro Probability/Statistics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This was literally the worst class I've ever taken, and probably will be one of the worst classes for all of my undergraduate experience. Jose is a nice guy, and he cares about his teaching, but he is a godawful teacher. Lecture does not follow the book at all, and as a person who rarely paid attention in lecture, I literally had no idea what to study for the midterms. Unfortunately probstat is probably one of those classes that'll be useful later on... But I can genuinely say that I did not learn a single fucking thing this entire semester. What the fuck.
The most confusing thing for me was all the notations that are used. Jose just jumps right in and starts using all this official probability notation without any explanation as to what any of it means. Class would have been much easier if I knew what they were.
Also, in March, he puts up his first course evaluation. Apparently he got overwhelmingly negative reviews because he dedicated an ENTIRE lecture to attempting to refute the negative things we all had to say about him.

Workload:

8 psets, lowest score dropped
pop quizzes, lowest dropped -- JOKES because there was only 1 pop quiz
2 midterms -- class average < 50% on both of them
final

May 23, 2011

Wright, Larry
[SIEO W3600] Intro Probability/Statistics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Terrible, terrible teacher. It's people like this that make me really furious. Why in the damned world do we have to pay 50 thousand dollars a year to come to this school and have a completely useless teacher? This guy seriously just went over the book, verbatim (although he did crop some few things out). the review below this one explains exactly how dumb/annoying those often unreadable PDFs are, since they are just a copy of the pages of the book (I'll give him credit though, he did change the names of the people in a few of the problems in the first chapters). I worked really hard in this crap only to do average. Review MGFs and Max Likelihood Estimators!

Workload:

1 pset a week, many answers are online. Really annoying that he even gave problem sets during mid term weeks....

May 01, 2011

Wright, Larry
[SIEO W3600] Intro Probability/Statistics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This course and professor are very frustrating. This course teaches a lot of very useful material, and the material is covered in a logical, orderly fashion.

However, the textbook is a mess. The software, an integral part of the text, only runs on Windows 32-bit systems and was designed for DOS. Also, the text is full of frustrating errors.

Then there's Prof Wright. He's a very nice guy, though not all that politically correct. He likest to talk about AZ and his family. He does his own recitation sessions on Fridays, and he often picks out students to praise or challenge or question or mock. This makes the course a lot more personal.

However, he teaches from hand-written PDF notes, which don't scroll properly since they're scanned in at such high resolution and can't be redrawn properly by a low-powered system. They're also fairly hard to read. Worst of all, they generally just rehash the content and the examples from the text; although it is a subset that is more likely to show up on an exam.

However, if you go excruciatingly slowly through the dense text and use Wright's PDFs to review before exams, you should be fine.

Despite this, class is pure agony. Not only do you have to wait for his notes to scroll, but Professor Wright mumbles incomprehensibly, trails off, writes too lightly, dismisses or forgets students' questions, and erases his work before anyone has a chance to copy it down.

It amazes me that 13/~100 students bother to show up by the end of the semester. Truly remarkable for a professor who has worked at IBM and elsewhere, and has been teaching since the 1970s. But I guess you can't teach an old dog a new trick. And the course is doable, even if highly and unnecessarily unpleasant.

Workload:

Average.

July 03, 2004

Heyman, Dan
[SIEO W3600] Intro Probability/Statistics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

oh man, this dude doesn't know how to teach!! yes, he is a nice old man but he was so dissappointing as a professor. I was able to tell on the first day of class he wasn't around school for a very very long time. I once showed up for his class 5 minutes late in the middle of the semester, and i was able to count 5 students in the classroom. As someone else mentioned, he specifically said "counting is not my specialty." Although reading off the textbook, he repeatedly made simple counting errors so many times. For our first miderm, he couldn't open the entrance door to the exam site that everyone started the 70minute exam 30 minutes late. Also, so many people were able to cheat during tests.
Basically, professor Heyman wasn't prepared to teach this course. He is very out of touch with today's students and i wasn't really sure if he knew what he was teaching either. Don't get me wrong but this is not personal. He seems like a very nice man but not the professor you would want as a professor. I was so pissed at one point that I was going to petition the IEOR department for giving us such a horrible professor. This course probably has the lowest course number in the IEOR department, but SIEO 3600 is a pre-requisite course for almost all the other IEOR courses and the department shouldn't have ever try to experiment us with professor Heyman.

Workload:

not bad. The grading is not bad at all if you are just trying to pull off a good grade from this course. But be aware IEOR mojars since you need to know your prob stat really well in order to do well in future courses.

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